Is it me or did the Christmas season start the day after Halloween this year? I saw Christmas trees going up on November 1st, heard classic holiday tunes blasting from shops, and noticed Starbucks’ festive red cups coming out earlier than usual. Amazon even had a promoted tweet on November 3rd that advertised a Black Friday countdown, as if that were the approaching holiday rather than Thanksgiving.
Because it’s never too early for a good deal, the countdown to Black Friday has begun! http://t.co/fYZQiDHHwZ
— Amazon (@amazon) November 3, 2014
No shame if you appreciate a great Black Friday deal—because wow, there are some unbelievable ones out there—but it’s so easy to get caught up in this sale-sale-sale, shop-shop-shop mentality. I sometimes have to take a deep breath and one giant step back to remind myself that the holidays aren’t about buying things or throwing extravagant parties. At their heart, the holidays are about generosity, sacrifice, and compassion.
There are several definitions for the word “give” in Merriam-Webster. My favorite is “to put in the possession of another for his or her use.” In essence, to give is to relinquish. It is to impart, to offer, to let go. I have to focus on that idea of letting go to understand what it means to truly give something of value to another person. I have to also let go of the idea that value only refers to the monetary cost. There is value in time. There is value in clothing and shelter and transportation. There is value in teaching and learning. These are things I sometimes take for granted, but for someone without them, they are priceless.
Here are unique gifts you can give today that will keep on giving way past the holiday season.
Promote Literacy with 826LA
This nonprofit organization from LA helps children from the ages of six to eighteen with their creative and expository writing skills. It also gives teachers the tools they need to inspire students. They have all sorts of interesting products, but their posters are particularly beautiful. Do you know any kiddos who’d love an artsy robot poster?
Warby Parker: It’s like TOMS but for glasses.
The concept is easy. Buy a pair of glasses and give a pair to someone in need; however, this company doesn’t just donate a pair to someone. Instead, they train individuals in developing countries on how to give basic eye exams and sell glasses in their communities at highly affordable prices. This creates a culture of autonomy rather than of dependency. If you know anyone who likes stylish eyewear (and who doesn’t?), this is the gift for him or her!
Foster a Lonely Pet for the Holidays
This one is a bit different from the rest on the list, but if you’re working with a small budget or already have the perfect gift planned for each person on your list, this will still give something of value to both a lonely animal and an animal shelter in your community. Find a shelter here or contact your local shelter to see if they do holiday fostering. Either way, having a cute foster pet to cuddle is a great way to give yourself a little gift of self-care, too!
Buy artsy holiday cards and provide learning supplies to students.
I want every single holiday card design Ecojot has available. Seriously. They are adorable. The best part, though, is that for every item you purchase from this company, a portion of the proceeds is used to provide notebooks and writing supplies to students in countries like Haiti, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Poland, and more. They also have other non-holiday products if you’re looking for birthday presents or gifts throughout the year.
So now let’s hear from you. What creative gifts and organizations do you know of? How can we give to our friends and give to those in need at the same time this season?